A-56574, AUGUST 23, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 148

A-56574: Aug 23, 1934

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(1) WHERE THE NUMBER OF PATRONS TO BE SERVED BY THE PROPOSED STAR ROUTE IS AT LEAST TWICE AS LARGE AS THE NUMBER OF PATRONS THAT HAVE BEEN SERVED BY THE RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE PROPOSED TO BE DISCONTINUED. AS FOLLOWS: SEVERAL CASES ARE CITED BELOW INVOLVING EXPENDITURES OF MONEY FROM THE STAR-ROUTE APPROPRIATION. UNLESS THE SERVICES OF A QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIER CANNOT BE SECURED.' (1) A STAR ROUTE WAS FORMERLY MAINTAINED BETWEEN JEFFERSON AND LANDER. AS BOTH JEFFERSON AND LANDER WERE OTHERWISE SUPPLIED ALTHOUGH THERE WAS. RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE WAS EXTENDED TO PROVIDE SUPPLY FOR THE TWENTY FIVE FAMILIES AND THE STAR ROUTE WAS DISCONTINUED. PROTESTS ARE RECEIVED THAT THE RURAL- DELIVERY SUPPLY IS NOT SATISFACTORY AND PATRONS URGE REESTABLISHMENT OF THE STAR ROUTE.

A-56574, AUGUST 23, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 148

POSTAL SERVICE - ESTABLISHMENT OF STAR ROUTES THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 451, TITLE 39, U.S.C. (ACT OF JULY 2, 1918, 40 STAT. 751), PROHIBIT THE SUBSTITUTION OF STAR-ROUTE SERVICE FOR RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE EXCEPT, (1) WHERE THE NUMBER OF PATRONS TO BE SERVED BY THE PROPOSED STAR ROUTE IS AT LEAST TWICE AS LARGE AS THE NUMBER OF PATRONS THAT HAVE BEEN SERVED BY THE RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE PROPOSED TO BE DISCONTINUED, OR (2) WHERE THE SERVICES OF A QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIER FOR THE ROUTE PROPOSED TO BE DISCONTINUED CANNOT BE SECURED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, AUGUST 23, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 10, 1934, AS FOLLOWS:

SEVERAL CASES ARE CITED BELOW INVOLVING EXPENDITURES OF MONEY FROM THE STAR-ROUTE APPROPRIATION, AND CURTAILMENT OR DISCONTINUANCE OF RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE, WITH REQUEST FOR OPINION AS TO PROPER INTERPRETATION OF THE STATUTE FOUND IN SECTION 1807, POSTAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS, EDITION OF 1932 (39 U.S.C. 451) WHICH READS:

"NO PART OF THE APPROPRIATION FOR INLAND TRANSPORTATION BY STAR ROUTES SHALL BE EXPENDED * * * NOR SHALL ANY OF SAID SUM BE EXPENDED FOR STAR- ROUTE SERVICE FOR A PATRONAGE A MAJOR PORTION OF WHICH HAS BEEN SERVED BY RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE, UNLESS THE SERVICES OF A QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIER CANNOT BE SECURED.'

(1) A STAR ROUTE WAS FORMERLY MAINTAINED BETWEEN JEFFERSON AND LANDER, MARYLAND, LARGELY FOR THE SUPPLY OF ABOUT TWENTY-FIVE FAMILIES THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF BOX DELIVERY AND COLLECTION SERVICE, AS BOTH JEFFERSON AND LANDER WERE OTHERWISE SUPPLIED ALTHOUGH THERE WAS, OF COURSE, SOME MAIL PASSING BETWEEN THE TWO OFFICES OVER THE STAR ROUTE. RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE WAS EXTENDED TO PROVIDE SUPPLY FOR THE TWENTY FIVE FAMILIES AND THE STAR ROUTE WAS DISCONTINUED, BUT PROTESTS ARE RECEIVED THAT THE RURAL- DELIVERY SUPPLY IS NOT SATISFACTORY AND PATRONS URGE REESTABLISHMENT OF THE STAR ROUTE. THE ROUTE MIGHT BE REESTABLISHED AND THE RURAL ROUTE CURTAILED, WITH SAVING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF APPROXIMATELY $40 PER ANNUM, AND PROVIDE THE SERVICE DESIRED, BUT THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THIS WOULD BE PERMISSIBLE AS PROBABLY THE MAJOR PORTION OF THE PATRONAGE, THE TWENTY- FIVE FAMILIES, HAVE BEEN SUPPLIED BY RURAL DELIVERY, THE MAIL HANDLED BETWEEN JEFFERSON AND LANDER EVIDENTLY BEING OF LESS IMPORTANCE THAN THE SUPPLY OF THE FAMILIES.

(2) STAR ROUTE NO. 76348, BISHOP TO ROUND VALLEY (NO OFFICE), CALIFORNIA, IS OPERATED SOLELY FOR THE SUPPLY OF FAMILIES THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF BOX- DELIVERY AND COLLECTION SERVICE. IT IS RECOMMENDED BY FIELD OFFICIALS THAT RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE NO. 1, BISHOP WHICH IS ABOUT TWENTY-EIGHT MILES IN LENGTH, BE DISCONTINUED AND THE STAR ROUTE CHANGED TO TAKE OVER ABOUT FIVE MILES OF THE RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE, SUPPLYING FORTY-FIVE OF THE FIFTY- FIVE FAMILIES ON THE RURAL ROUTE, THE REMAINING PART WHICH SUPPLIED ONLY TEN FAMILIES TO BE DISPENSED WITH, OR, IF THAT BE NOT PERMISSIBLE, THAT THE RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE BE CHANGED TO OMIT THAT PORTION ON WHICH THE TEN FAMILIES ARE SUPPLIED AND EXTENDED TO ROUND VALLEY (NO OFFICE), THE STAR ROUTE TO BE DISCONTINUED. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER IT WOULD BE PERMISSIBLE TO EXPEND $74.72 PER ANNUM FROM THE STAR-ROUTE APPROPRIATION FOR A PATRONAGE NOW SERVED BY RURAL DELIVERY, WHICH WOULD MAKE THE TOTAL COST OF THE STAR ROUTE $1,419.72 PER ANNUM, OR WHETHER THE RURAL DELIVERY ROUTE SHOULD BE EXTENDED TO COVER THE SAME PATRONAGE AS WOULD BE SUPPLIED BY THE STAR ROUTE, MAKING TOTAL COST OF THE RURAL ROUTE $2,685.12, OR $1,265.40 PER ANNUM MORE THAN THE COST OF THE STAR ROUTE.

(3) A POST-OFFICE INSPECTOR RECOMMENDED THAT STAR ROUTE NO. 50425, KEMPNER TO OAKALLA, TEXAS, BE EXTENDED TO TAKE UP RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE NO. 1, OAKALLA, AND STATED THAT AS ONLY SEVENTY-FIVE FAMILIES WERE SUPPLIED BY THE RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE, WHILE NINETY-NINE WERE SERVED BY THE STAR ROUTE, THE PATRONAGE OF THE RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE A MAJOR PATRONAGE OF THE PROPOSED STAR ROUTE. THIS WOULD EFFECT A NET SAVING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF $1,479.84 PER ANNUM. THE QUESTION IS, WHETHER THIS IS THE CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF THE LAW, OR WHETHER THE EXPENDITURE OF $613.92 FROM THE STAR-ROUTE APPROPRIATION WOULD BE FOR A PATRONAGE (SEVENTY-FIVE FAMILIES) NOW SUPPLIED BY RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE, AND THEREFORE NOT PERMISSIBLE.

(4) REQUESTS HAD BEEN RECEIVED FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF STAR-ROUTE SERVICE IN LIEU OF RURAL-DELIVERY ROUTE NO. 1, FLATWILLOW, MONTANA, BUT NO ACTION WAS TAKEN THEREON AND THE ROUTE WAS DISCONTINUED MAY 15, 1933, BECAUSE OF SMALL PATRONAGE. BY ESTABLISHING A STAR ROUTE OF PROBABLY TWICE A WEEK FREQUENCY INSTEAD OF TRIWEEKLY AS WAS THE RURAL DELIVERY ROUTE, SUCH ROUTE COULD PROBABLY BE OBTAINED FOR VERY MUCH LESS COST THAN DID THE RURAL- DELIVERY ROUTE, AND THE QUESTION IS WHETHER A STAR ROUTE MIGHT PROPERLY BE ESTABLISHED AT THIS TIME EVEN THOUGH A MAJOR PORTION OF THE PATRONAGE HAS BEEN SERVED BY RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE.

THE ENTIRE SECTION 451, TITLE 39, U.S.C. A PORTION OF WHICH IS QUOTED IN YOUR LETTER, IS AS FOLLOWS:

NO PART OF THE APPROPRIATION FOR INLAND TRANSPORTATION BY STAR ROUTES SHALL BE EXPENDED FOR CONTINUANCE OF ANY STAR-ROUTE SERVICE THE PATRONAGE OF WHICH SHALL BE SERVED ENTIRELY BY THE EXTENSION OF RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE, NOR SHALL ANY OF SAID SUM BE EXPENDED FOR STAR-ROUTE SERVICE FOR A PATRONAGE A MAJOR PORTION OF WHICH HAS BEEN SERVED BY RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE, UNLESS THE SERVICES OF A QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIER CANNOT BE SECURED (JULY 2, 1918, C. 117, SEC. 1, 40 STAT. 751).

THE APPARENT PURPOSE OF THIS PROVISION WAS TO EFFECT A CURTAILMENT OF STAR-ROUTE SERVICE AND AN EXTENSION OF RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE, AND IT PROHIBITS THE SUBSTITUTION OF STAR-ROUTE SERVICE FOR RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE EXCEPT UNDER CERTAIN PRESCRIBED CONDITIONS, TO WIT, (1) WHERE THE NUMBER OF PATRONS TO BE SERVED BY THE PROPOSED STAR ROUTE IS AT LEAST TWICE AS LARGE AS THE NUMBER OF PATRONS THAT HAVE BEEN SERVED BY THE RURAL DELIVERY ROUTE PROPOSED TO BE DISCONTINUED, OR (2) WHERE THE SERVICES OF A QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIER FOR THE ROUTE PROPOSED TO BE DISCONTINUED CANNOT BE SECURED. UNLESS ONE OF THESE TWO CONDITIONS CAN BE ESTABLISHED STAR- ROUTE SERVICE MAY NOT LEGALLY BE SUBSTITUTED FOR RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE.

THE PROVISIONS OF THE ENACTMENT ARE A LIMITATION ON THE USE OF APPROPRIATIONS AND THE QUESTIONS SUBMITTED MUST BE ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.

IN CASE (1) THE FIRST CONDITION IS NOT PRESENT, THAT IS, THE PROPOSED SUBSTITUTION WILL NOT SERVE TWICE AS MANY PATRONS AS ARE BEING SERVED BY THE RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE. THEREFORE, THE REESTABLISHMENT OF THE STAR ROUTE IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNLESS IT BE DETERMINED THAT THE PRESENT RURAL CARRIER IS NOT QUALIFIED PURSUANT TO THE STANDARDS FIXED BY THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT AND THAT THE SERVICES OF A QUALIFIED CARRIER CANNOT BE SECURED.

IF A QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIER CAN BE SECURED, THE PROPOSED EXTENSION OF THE STAR ROUTE IN CASE (2) IS NOT AUTHORIZED. IF THE PRESENT SET-UP CANNOT BE MAINTAINED, AND IT IS A QUESTION OF EXTENDING EITHER THE STAR ROUTE OR THE RURAL ROUTE, THE LATTER ONLY WOULD BE AUTHORIZED NOTWITHSTANDING THE INCREASED COST OF OPERATION.

ASSUMING THAT QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIERS ARE NOW SERVING OR CAN BE SECURED, THE PROPOSED ACTION IN CASE (3) IS NOT AUTHORIZED. HAVING IN MIND THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW AS ABOVE STATED, IT MUST BE HELD THAT NO PORTION OF ANY EXISTING RURAL ROUTE MAY BE COMBINED WITH ALL OR ANY PORTION OF AN EXISTING STAR ROUTE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE MAJOR PORTION OF THE PATRONAGE ON THE PROPOSED ROUTE HAS BEEN SERVED BY THE RURAL DELIVERY SERVICE. OTHERWISE, IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE THROUGH SUCH COMBINATIONS GREATLY TO INCREASE STAR ROUTES AND DECREASE RURAL ROUTES, THE VERY CONDITION THE STATUTE SOUGHT TO PROHIBIT.

IF A QUALIFIED RURAL CARRIER CAN BE SECURED THE PROPOSED ACTION IN CASE (4) IS NOT AUTHORIZED.